Characteristics of Inpatient Hospital Stays Involving Sickle Cell Disease

Characteristics of Inpatient Hospital Stays Involving Sickle Cell Disease, a statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, presents statistics on inpatient stays among patients with SCD.

Approximately 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease (SCD), a blood disorder altering the body's red blood cells to a disc or sickle shape and becoming hard and sticky.  SCD most frequently affect individuals with ancestry from Africa, certain Mediterranean countries, Saudi Arabia, India, and Spanish-speaking regions of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.  

People with SCD experience pain episodes or pain crises that start suddenly, vary in severity, and can last any length of time. Additional complications of SCD include repeated infections, painful swelling in hands and feet, acute chest syndrome, and stroke, to name a few.

Highlights

  • In 2016, there were 134,000 sickle cell disease SCD-related inpatient hospital stays. Over three-fourths of these stays involved a pain crisis.
  • Half of all SCD-related stays were for patients 18-34 years old, and nearly 90 percent were for Black patients. From 2000 to 2014, the number of SCD-related stays increased most for adults older than 64 years.
  • Stays for patients with SCD were more likely to begin in the emergency department than were stays for patients without SCD (79.6 vs. 51.3 percent).
  • SCD-related stays resulted in discharge against medical advice at a rate 4 times greater than non-SCD-related stays in 2016 (4.1 vs. 1.2 percent).
  • In 2016, aggregate costs for inpatient stays for SCD totaled $811.4 million with an average length of stay of 5 days.
  • One-third of stays for SCD had a 30-day readmission, compared with 12.5 percent of non-SCD-related stays.
  • SCD-related stays were concentrated in a subset of U.S. hospitals in 2016. Only 85 hospitals (3.5 percent of all hospitals) had more than 300 SCD-related stays in 2016.
  • Most SCD-related stays were for patients from metro areas and occurred at hospitals in metro areas. Half of SCD-related stays for patients from rural areas occurred at hospitals in metro areas.

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Page last reviewed September 2019
Page originally created September 2019
Internet Citation: Characteristics of Inpatient Hospital Stays Involving Sickle Cell Disease. Content last reviewed September 2019. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/news/hcup-sickle-cell-disease-brief.html
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